Shettar Set To Take Oath As Karnataka CM Thursday
Bangalore: Karnataka Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar is all set to take oath as chief minister Thursday amid indications that the unabashed jockeying for power in his Bharatiya Janata party is set to dog him and the state.
Shettar, 56, was Tuesday unanimously elected leader of the state BJP legislature wing at a meeting held nearly five hours after the scheduled time as supporters of outgoing chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda put stiff conditions to attend the meet. They included that Gowda be named state unit president and the incumbent K.S. Eshwarappa deputy chief minister ahead of the meet.
However they were won over by party senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, who got them to drop their insistence and attend the meet with the promise that their demand will be considered by the BJP national leadership.
Gowda will submit the resignation to Governor H. R. Bhardwaj Wednesday and Shettar will be sworn in Thursday, Rajnath Singh announced after the meet that was held around 4 p.m. instead of the scheduled 11 a.m.
As Shettar’s supporters trooped into an upscale hotel in the city centre for the meeting Tuesday morning, Gowda and his supporters stayed put in his official residence, a km away, to pressure the party leadership to accept their demand.
Both Rajnath Singh and Shettar said that the issue of deputy chief minister’s post will be decided in consultation with state and national leaders.
Gowda’s supporters, numbering around 45 of the BJP’s 120 law-makers in the 225-member assembly, are also insisting that their group should get about 17 cabinet berths, or half the number of ministers the state can have.
Since the number of ministers is limited to 15 percent of the assembly strength, Karnataka can have a 34-member ministry including the chief minister.
They are also seeking equal representation for the group in the appointment as heads of government-run corporations and boards.
Shettar and BJP national leaders will have daunting task to ensure satisfactory sharing of power to ensure dissidence does not turn ugly again, like it did last week forcing Gowda out of office, less than a year after he took over from corruption-tainted B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The solution has to be found quickly because assembly elections are due May next while there is a talk of them being held by the year’s end.
As is usual practice for political parties whenever leadership change is effected due to dissidence, a show of unity was put on display at the legislature party meeting.
Rajnath Singh said Yeddyurappa and Gowda proposed Shettar’s name and Eshwarappa and Govind Karjola, a minister loyal to Gowda, seconded it.
The first hurdle Shettar and BJP have to cross is cabinet formation. Shettar did not indicate whether he will take oath alone or how many ministers will be sworn in with him. “I will decide all these issues in consultation with state and national leaders,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Jaitley did not attend the meeting as he left for Delhi for personal reasons. Shettar is a four-time assembly member from Hubli rural constituency in north Karnataka, about 400 km from Bangalore.
The soft-spoken, shy, commerce and law graduate takes over from Gowda who had pipped him to the post 11 months ago when elections were held in the legislature party to chose a successor to Yeddyurappa, who was forced to quit over mining bribery charges.
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